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StevenRocks

Four classes of Downtown Roanoke arcihitecture

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I have been doing a lot of walking around downtown lately (mainly around lunchtime) and I've been noticing the buildings fall into four general architectural groups, though some fall into two or more. Here's my take:

Typical - This is the core group of downtown buildings. The typical Roanoke buildings are the ones from the early part of the 20th century and most of the office towers and parking garages from the past generation or so. Most are nothing special, but they're not horrible architecturally. They are the backbone of what make the city what it is building-wise.

Examples: BB&T Building, Norfolk Southern Tower, Woolworth's, Seven-O-Seven, Crystal Tower, most of the City Market, older part of the Municipal Building.

Banal - This is a subjective category, to be sure, but it's primarily reserved for the most asinine and boring buildings in the downtown core. These consist primarily of the ubiquitous faux Colonial and Tudor storefronts from the '50s and '60s, but can also include the dull stucco-covered and blandly nostalgic creations of the last few years.

Examples: Verizon, Former Grand Piano building, Campbell Court, Roanoke Police Department and City Jail, Poff Federal Building, Main Post Office, former Hallmark store at Church and Jefferson, Subway/Frankie Rowland's building.

Extarordianry - These are the buildings that make postacards, folks. They're distinctive enough to be photogenic and architecturally signifgant enough that even design snobs can appreciate them.

Examples: Fire Station #1, Warehouse Row, St. Andrew's and Greene Memorial Churches, Downtown Learning Center, Wachovia Tower, Texas Tavern, City Market Building, Jefferson Center, old FNEB Building, Hotel Roanoke, Link Museum

Odd - These are the "what were they thinking" buildings. Some are cool, some are debatable, but they're all related in their weirdness.

Examples: newer part of the Municipal Building, Roanoke City Courthouse, the new Art Museum, WSLS-TV, Community Hospital, First Citizens Bank.

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I only disagree with you on a few of the buildings you listed. I find the NS building to be equally as attractive as the Wachovia tower. And architecturally, I don't find the Texas Tavern to be very impressive. It seems like more of a cultural icon than an example of good building design. ...great place to go at 2:00 am after having a few drinks if you have the beer munchies.

I think I would add 8 Jefferson place and the Higher ED center to the extraordinary list. 8 Jefferson place expecially has very unique brickwork and dormer window design.

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I agree with you in part, but I don't really like the NS building that much. Some of the details are good, but it's not sited very well in my opinion and it still doesn't feel like part of the downtown landscape even after fifteen years. Seems forced for some reason.

I do definately agree on the buildings across the tracks, though...

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I agree that the NS building doesn't fit in with the surrounding landscape. I just really like how it looks at night from a distance. The granite brown and gray are well accented by the lighting.

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That whole section of town with the towers abutting Elmwood Park is odd. The transition from park to downtown is a little clunky.

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Great list, maybe, we can classify more buildings in DT as times go on. What catorgory do you think the Roanoke Times building falls in?

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The Roanoke Times building falls under the Typical banner. The printing plant is a little more adventurous than the main core, but it's all pretty decent.

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